(from The General Epistles, 1917)
While the blessed hope of their Lord’s return has been the stay and comfort of His followers in every age, there have always been men, even within the Church, who have ridiculed the doctrine as an idle fancy, a chimera, a dream. There were such men in the days of Peter, and he writes his Second Epistle to warn his readers against these teachers of unbelief; such teachers exist today, and express polite surprise that any persons could be so lacking in intelligence as to expect a literal, visible, glorious reappearing of Jesus Christ; such have been predicted to appear “in the last days,” and their scoffing will make them unconscious witnesses of the fact they deride.
In the earlier verses of this chapter, Peter has indicated that such unbelief was not due to any lack of prediction on the part of Christ or of the prophets and apostles, but was due to the long delay in the fulfillment of the promises; no one who reads the New Testament questions the fact that the early Christians expected the return of the Lord, and regarded it as possible in their own day; “but,” say these doubters, “the early church was evidently mistaken; the predictions have been discredited by these ages of delay.” To such Peter makes his memorable reply: “But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” That is to say, time is purely relative, and what seems a long delay to man is not long in the mind of the Eternal; to Him the issues of a single day are permanent, endless; and the events of a thousand years are present, real, already passing before Him.
Thus to the charge of a long delay, Peter replies, first, that men are poor judges of the length and shortness of time in which divine counsels are concerned; he replies, in the next place, that what, even in human judgment, is a long delay, is occasioned by a wise and gracious purpose: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” not unmindful, not indifferent to His word, “but is long suffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;” if He delays His judgment, it is that men, even the readers of this epistle, may have time to repent and to accept the salvation He has provided in Jesus Christ.